Saturday 9 July 2011

Barney Life No. 38

Much Ado About Nothing
This week the Castle Players have been performing their annual play by a certain William Shakespeare, as they have done for many years past.
But first a word about the location of this years play. Ever since the Players began performing Mr S.'s plays in the grounds of Bowes Museum, they have been staged under The Tree, a great tree to the west side of the Museum - everything was in the open, the grass of the stage area, the seats for the spectators - and no matter what the weather the performance went ahead (two years ago I went to a performance where it rained solidly for the whole play, and quite a large number of the audience disappeared at the half-time interval - the actors just got drenched!).  This year the stage area was moved to a new place, at the back of the great lawn behind the Museum.  As you can see in the first photo, this is the area where picnics take place before the play starts and during the interval. Two very large trailers with built-in, drop-down, seating shelter the audience under a canopy (apart from the front row where I was sitting - I was wet by a light shower).  The whole area was barricaded from passers-by with plastic sheeting, and I had the impression that the inside must be quite small and compact.  In fact, when I went inside to take my seat, the inside seemed to expand, like Doctor Who's Tardis, to an extraordinary degree.  And there at the back of grassed stage area was another great Tree, even, to my mind, better than the Other Tree.  I just loved the new setting and I hope that the Castle Players will keep the new set-up in the future.
The Museum Lawn

The new Grandstands
The play itself, Much Ado About Nothing, is the usual farce of blighted love, misunderstandings, a real black-garbed villain (booed by the audience whenever he appeared), and, of course, everything turns out alright in the end.  The actors were all costumed in Elizabethan costumes (so it said in the programme - how would I know?); the standard of acting was great, the action was continuous, moving to all parts of the arena, so that we all had close up views of the players, and many bits of 'business' were most amusing, especially worth mentioning was the hand-bagging Aunt who thumped with vigour the two errant leading men with her handbag, to the vast amusement of the audience.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole play. I attended on Wednesday, but there have been performances all week - tonight is the last night.  I am already looking forward to next year.

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely mixed blog. I am a lover of the north Pennines. I will come to your Mass when I am next there.